Why is it that only 20% of Americans exercise enough to make a significant impact on their health profile?
No one would debate the proven benefits of consistent exercise; decreased risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and osteoporosis, reduced blood pressure, maintenance of healthy body weight and improved body image, decreased depression, increased self-esteem, and improved stress management, just to name a few. The American College of Sports Medicine has coined the phrase, “Exercise is Medicine”. You would think that all of that would be enough motivation to get us out the door and to the gym on a daily basis. But even the most devoted exercisers sometimes have a hard time getting motivated to do their daily routine. Try the following tips to keep you motivated, excited and energized about your workouts.
Create your personal wellness vision, by answering the questions, “If I were at my optimum level of health and well-being, what would that look like and feel like to me? Why does it truly matter?” When you can answer those questions, see your vision, and feel it in your heart, you will exercise even on the days you don’t feel like it. Whether it’s climbing mountains with your spouse when you retire, riding bikes with future grandchildren, avoiding debilitating back pain, or looking great in the newest fashions, your motivation will be linked to your personal reasons for staying fit!
Try the buddy system. Enlist a friend or loved one in your quest for fitness. When you make a commitment to meet someone at the gym or track, and you know they are counting on you, you will make sure to get out the door.
Find an activity that is fun. Whether it’s spinning, swimming, dance classes or ice skating, make sure you like what you do. Try new things, and mix up the old routines. Everyone gets bored of the same thing day after day.
Create a challenge. Sign up for a race, a walk for charity, or contests at the gym. Having a challenge to work towards will inspire you to keep going.
Build in a reward system. For every 5 pounds you lose, or for every 15 exercise sessions you complete, promise yourself a new exercise outfit, a massage, tickets to a play or concert or anything else that spells treat for you (except food, of course!). Whenever you feel like skipping a workout, remind yourself of the reward to come.
Keep an exercise log. Writing down your workouts and seeing your growth and accomplishments over time can be incredibly rewarding. When you are just not in the mood, looking at your log and seeing a month ago you could only do 5 push ups and now you can easily do 15, will reinforce how far you’ve come.
Hire a certified personal trainer. A good trainer can help you create a program that will assure that you achieve results, are exercising efficiently and safely, and encourage you to work through plateaus. Even a few sessions to learn a new routine will help ignite your enthusiasm and motivation.
Couple exercise with another activity you enjoy. Walk on your treadmill while watching your favorite TV show, read while on the stationary bike, or jog the track with a friend. Listening to music or audiobooks can make exercise more enjoyable.
Change your self talk. When the voice in your head says, “I’m just too tired to exercise.”, talk back. “Exercise always makes me feel better, and I’ll feel more energized when I’m done.” Another common voice is the one that says, “I’ll do it tomorrow, or later today.” Follow with, “You know you are just fooling yourself – get it done now and you’ll feel great!”
Just do it! As the old Nike slogan goes, when all else fails, workout anyway. Give yourself permission to end your session after ten minutes if you still feel like exercise is a struggle that day. Seldom, if ever, will you not complete your workout.
Experiment with the above suggestions and see which ones work for you. Or mix and match and try out different tips each day. After a few weeks, notice whether you are feeling more motivated and being more consistent with your workouts. Remember, in order to live your vision and reach your health goals, there is no option. Exercise must be part of your life!
What keeps you motivated to exercise consistently? Leave your comments below. Perhaps your ideas will inspire someone to get off the couch and up and moving!